Image from the Catalan News Agency
Image from the Catalan News Agency

The iconic Times Square, in the heart of Manhattan, was this morning (Monday to Tuesday) the stage chosen to show the AINA project to the world.

In the presence of the of the Catalan community abroad, one of the giant screens of Times Square has shown the AINA project. The action aims to vindicate Catalan as a language of the future in the digital world. As part of the Sant Jordi events of the Catalan community in New York, the performance consisted of the broadcast, on one of the giant screens of Times Square and in front of the Catalan delegation gathered in the legendary New York Square, of a promotional video of the AINA project with the message:

“Som digitals. Som catalans. Ja és hora que Internet parli català”.
(“We are digital. We are Catalans. It's time for the Internet to speak Catalan.")

The vice-president of the Government and Minister of Digital Policies and Territory, Jordi Puigneró, who led the action, insisted that "now more than ever, Catalan needs to be defended as a language of use on the Internet and in the digital field. We have done it in Northern Catalonia, in the Islands, in the Valencian Country and today we wanted to shout to the world that there are 11 million speakers behind Catalan".

For Puigneró "We do not have the tools of a state to defend the language, but we have the will and the capability to create projects like AINA. We have our own language and a universal culture that must be also able to have its space, in the digital world."

Puigneró conveyed this same message during the subsequent presentation of the AINA project to the Catalan community abroad, whom he invited to get involved in the project because “to defend Catalan as the digital language of the future we need the collaboration of everyone, also and especially of the Catalonia abroad”.

Thanks to the collaboration of Ràdio América Barcelona (RAB), a Transoceanic Catalan radio station with studios in Barcelona and Catalan centers in several South American countries, the vice-president has been able to present the AINA project in Catalonia abroad in a special program made from New York and with live connections with the Catalan community on Twitter and with the Catalan centers in Brussels (Belgium), Guayaquil (Ecuador), Mexico City (Mexico) and La Plata (Argentina).

During the program, which has been broadcast live on RAB's Internet and Twitch radio channels, the Catalan communities of the different centers contacted have actively participated in the recording of voices for the AINA project so that technology can speak and understand Catalan, and have explained the activities they carry out to promote and keep the Catalan language alive abroad.

The presentation of the AINA project in outer Catalonia from New York was carried out taking advantage of the stay of Vice President Puigneró in the American city on the occasion of his participation as a representative of Catalonia in the High Level Meeting of UN Habitat on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda, to be held in New York from 26 to 28 April.

Image from the Catalan News Agency
Image from the Catalan News Agency

About the AINA project

Promoted by the Department of the Vice-Presidency and Digital and Territorial Policies in collaboration with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), AINA is a project based on data technologies and Artificial Intelligence to enable machines to understand and speak Catalan with the ultimate goal of avoiding the digital extinction of the Catalan language.

In this sense, the AINA project is building the corpora and models of the Catalan language to make it easier for technology companies to develop their specific solutions or services (translators, personal assistants, speech synthesizers, text classifiers, etc.) in our language.

In mid-February, the Government of Catalonia launched the campaign 'Our language is your voice'  as part of the AINA project with the aim of gathering as many voices as possible to feed the first version of the content. Catalan voice corpus, essential to teach the machines to understand and speak our language.

The campaign invites Catalan-speaking citizens of all ages, genders, conditions and backgrounds to "give" their voice through the website, from where everyone can read, record and validate an unlimited number of phrases grouped from 5 to 5 on Mozilla's Common Voice platform.

At the beginning of April, the Vice-Presidency of the Government, with the collaboration of cultural entities and associations and the defense of the language, launched a tour of the AINA project for Catalan-speaking territories (Northern Catalonia, Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands) with the aim of adding the voices and accents of the variants spoken in these territories to the campaign and thus generating a corpus of voices that contemplate all the linguistic diversity of oral Catalan. The AINA tour will continue before the summer with a second phase that will cover the eight vegueries of the Catalan territory.

April 26th, 2022